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Racial Profiling In America. This Is A Look At A Specific Problem In Policing Today. The Subject Is Racial Profiling During Traffic Stops

2511 words - 10 pages

Racial Profiling in America.In the past 10 years a regular occurrence has become a problem threatening the very well-being and respectability of Americas police departments. This problem is racial profiling. Racial Profiling occurs in many places but is greatly scrutinized and publicized in regards to traffic stops. Racial profiling in traffic stops is a practice that is wrong under our constitutional rights and it is an "un-American" way of thinking to target only blacks, Caucasian, or Hispanics or any other ethnic group as a group of wrongdoers (Harris, 2001). It undermines the civil order that police organizations strive to maintain because racial profiling causes police organizations to be seen as un-trustworthy or that they are not fair to all people in their duties (Cleary, 2000). Racial profiling can be defined in several different ways; some definitions are more effective than others are.One common definition of racial profiling is, "the police use of race as the sole basis for initiating law enforcement activities." (Meehan and Ponder; 2002 p.2) By this definition, for an activity to count as racial profiling the officer's motivation or intent to discriminate must be demonstratable. The actions of an officer are not to be based on race, but rather on how the person was acting or from information that would cause the officer to target the individual as a culprit in criminal activity. However, racial profiling can be extended further by not limiting the definition to the actions of police as being "solely" based on race. (Langworthy and Travis 1999 Pg. 422) Other factors can have an impact on a racially biased police officer that must be addressed. The officer may make a decision to pull someone over because of their race and the neighborhood they are in or because of the type of car they are driving. They may also make a racially motivated decision by deciding whom to enforce the law. They may see two cars speeding with a Hispanic driving one car and a Caucasian driving the other. The officer may pull over the Hispanic driver because he/she is racially biased against Hispanics but the officer was not solely using race as a reason to enforce law, they were enforcing a reasonable suspicion. However, the problem of race being a decision is perceived to be a common occurrence by the public and it must be eradicated (Cleary 2002, pg.7). Firdell, Lunney, Diamond, and Kubu (2001) claimed the police officers of America do not view it as a widespread problem but in the era of community policing the public (who are viewed as clients) must be satisfied with how their police are functioning, thus the issue must be addressed (Meehan, 2002).The issue of racial profiling in traffic stops is very important. The popularity of the automobile in American society has been the reason for this. Most Americans own at least one car and Americans use them as a primary mode of transportation. This being said it is also used for crime. Cars are used to transport...

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